EU considers relaxing the rules on the hunting of wolves 

europe wolf

Lawmakers at the European Commission are said to be considering downgrading the conservation status of wolves in the bloc from “strictly protected” to “protected”.

Despite public opinion across Europe being clearly in favour of European or Eurasian grey wolf conservation – 68% of countryside dwellers support protections as well as 65% of farmers – the European Commission (EC) is reportedly considering changing the status of native wolves from the higher “strictly protected” level to “protected”. 

The killing of wolves in Europe is currently illegal, bar some strict exceptions, such as immediate threat to life, but the downgrading of their status could change that.

The official number of wolves living in the wild in Europe is unknown, but experts put the various population figures in the realms to 17,000 to 20,000 individuals. There are nine “transboundary” populations on records, but six of these are still considered vulnerable, and animal protection groups such as Rewilding Europe say their survival could be compromised if legal hunts or culls resumed.  

“The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans,” says EC President Ursula von der Leyen, whose horse was reportedly killed by a wolf in 2022. “I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary.” 

Any changes to protection status would come under the Berne Convention, and would require agreement from EU states. The 1992 decision to give European grey wolves the highest level of legal protections has been accredited with their revival on the continent.  


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Photo source: Hans Veth, Unsplash